Mark Higgins’ first drive 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.
In a nutshell The 2014 Jeep Cherokee re-imagines the 40-year old icon for a new breed of SUV buyers.
Practical Motoring says The Jeep Cherokee Limited is more impressive than its 4×2 entry-level sibling, the Cherokee Sport, offering more grunt, a smoother transmission and four-wheel drive. If you’re looking for a compact SUV that’ll take you from town to the country the Cherokee Sport should be on your list.
THIS YEAR (2014) SEES JEEP celebrate the Cherokee’s 40th birthday and back then if you told Americans that it would one day share its underpinnings with an Italian hatchback, they’d have run you out of town. But it’s true and the car is none other than the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Since being taken over by the Fiat conglomerate, sharing of components has resulted in cost savings and quality improvements, with the new Cherokee proving the relationship is working.
There’s no mistaking the Cherokee on the road, with its distinctive chromed seven-slot grille, slim, high mounted lights, rectangular headlight apertures and circular fog lights.
Square topped flared wheel arches, a Jeep signature, are employed and a deep line separates the upper and lower body lower body with the door bottoms clad in protective panelling. Its rear window is raked, side windows tapered towards the rear and it rides on polished 18-inch alloys. The tail lamps sit just below the rear window of the electrically operated tailgate and two circular exhausts extend from the full-width lower protective panelling.
Inside the Limited it’s spacious and luxurious with stitching along the dash panel, supremely comfortable leather seats (electric operation for the driver) and silver garnish through the cabin. It has room for five adults with plenty of leg, shoulder and headroom in both the front and back. There’s also a cold storage box under the front seat cushion and the 60/40-split rear seat reclines for extra comfort and moves forward to increase the cargo area when needed.
All the controls and dials have a quality feel and the fit and finish is first class. The nine speaker Alpine 506-watt sound system has outstanding clarity and is a breeze pair with a phone or stream music through. There are numerous storage bins, three 12-volt power outlets, cupholders, big door pockets and a glovebox that can swallow a laptop or ipad.
Two large analogue dials accommodate the speedo and tacho with digital the fuel and temperature gauges sitting below. The leather-trimmed steering wheel has the adaptive cruise control, phone, audio and multifunction buttons from which the driver can select sat nav directions, a digital speedo, real-time fuel economy, safety warnings, Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, audio information and the Selec-Terrain driving mode.
Located in the centre dash is the Uconnect 21cm touchscreen that has the reversing camera plus audio, climate, sat nav, Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming controls. On each side are large air vents and below, additional HVAC and audio controls plus the ESC on/off button.
Power delivery from the 3.2 litre V6 (200kW at 6500rpm and 316Nm at 4400rpm) is seamless and linear as are the gear changes, the nine-speed automatic transmission seems to be more comfortable with more power being run through it when compared to the smaller engined Cherokee Sport where it feels a little jerky in lower gears. It happily runs on 91RON unleaded which makes it a little easier on the hip pocket given its official combined fuel consumption figure of 10L/100km. Our week with the Cherokee Limited returned 10.4L/100km.
The electric, speed-sensitive, power steering is finger light when parking with more weight at higher speeds. Also providing progressive feel were the big 330mm brakes to keep the 1.85 tonne Cherokee in check. Standard on the Cherokee Limited is Jeeps Selec-Terrain system which has four modes; Auto, Sport, Snow, Mud/Sand and changing modes can be done on the run. Although we couldn’t try Snow, Mud/Sand, we did toggle between Auto and Sport. In Auto, the set and forget mode decided what’s best, while in Sport body roll was reduced through corners and the throttle more responsive, gear changes were also made with more vigour.
At all times ride was relaxed and comfortable with the long travel of the strut front and four-link rear suspension soaking up bumps and dips big and small. Cornering wasn’t a roly-poly affair with the Cherokee delivering a good degree of composure through bends. It’s also very quiet inside, with only the coarsest surfaces breaking into the cabin.
Priced from $44,000 (+ORC) the Cherokee Limited is well kitted with leather trim (front seats are heated), auto levelling bi-xenon headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, Uconnect touchscreen, front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera, nine speaker stereo, Selec-Terrain system, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers and privacy glass. Driving aids included hill hold assist, adaptive cruise control that has the Cherokee speeding up or slowing down with the traffic flow, blind spot monitoring with warning triangles in the side mirrors, forward collision monitoring, lane departure sensors and a first for Jeep and any Chrysler Group vehicle – Parksense – that allows the Cherokee to park itself with the aid of sensors.
It also has a five star ANCAP safety rating and an array of safety systems including; ParkSense – Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control-Plus, Forward Collision Warning- Plus; LaneSense Departure Warning, Electronic Stability Control (ESC); Electronic Roll Mitigation, Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection, ParkView rear camera and seven air bags.